Energetic Recharge Part 2

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Dear soft hearted loves,

This week we are back to treating burnout. However, this time let’s look at dismantling sexism and colonialism to prevent burnout from happening in the first place. Society unfortunately seems to expect people to do more than their supposed to do especially if they are perceived as or assigned as feminine or a woman or a person of color (POC). Colonialist principles expected POC to be enslaved and smiling about it. For example, when I moved to California I was saddened to see Mission San Jóse with paintings of First Nations Peoples or Indigenous People smiling while they did the colonialist’s work. Colonialists made slavery and colonialism look like a choice and like a job in these paintings. It is outrageous that these are pieces of “art” being displayed as late as 2018 in California. This devastating colonialism is part of our very recent roots in the United States. There are tremendous tree trunks, leaves, and fruit that have grown from these recent roots and society continues to expect feminine people and POC to do more for less.

People portraying enslavement and colonialism as a joyful job in a painting at Mission San Jóse is horrific and we know many other examples of how colonialism and sexism show up in the work place such as unequal pay. Of course womyn and POC may experience burnout with the weight of the country on their shoulders.

We can prevent some of this burnout by getting to those roots in every work meeting, every interaction, and every step of the way from home to work and back. We can prevent more burnout through dismantling colonialism and sexism in the workplace and home especially for White presenting folx like myself.

As a White presenting person I want to both acknowledge my privilege and dismantle racism and sexism, including at work. It can be everywhere from smaller actions to more large-scale actions. It can be as micro as looking at who you serve and how you welcome other women and POC into the field to as large scale as bringing systems issues to attention.

Micro ways of addressing colonialism and sexism at my jobs include and are not limited to leaving on time, taking breaks, referring patients with equity, and acknowledging my privilege in the therapy room. This ensures that I do not perpetuate the work harder for less money and commitment to equity.

Macro ways of dismantling colonialism and sexism in this context include changing systems to be more inclusive, “inviting in” by introducing yourself at meetings with pronouns and acknowledging other layers of privilege, and confronting internal and external isms at work daily. Ensuring we don’t wait for someone else to address these wounds means we could be preventing someone from feeling knocked down, burdened, exhausted and burned out by the colonialist, sexist systems.

Preventing burnout in the first place is somewhat less discussed than identifying a burnout recovery plan. As we return to some activities that may feel safe to return to and as we connect more in person folx report more and more burnout to me daily. We must look at what we can do now to treat those burns and also address the cause of much of our burnout. If people are treated with equity we have a chance at preventing burnout. Dismantling colonialism and sexism is the mental health remedy for burnout.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

Energetic Recharge Part 1

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Dear soft hearted loves,

People have been talking about burning out quite a bit so I thought I’d blog about it. Burn out sometimes has Eurocentric solutions that aren’t accessible or don’t help everyone. This article will explain what burnout is and three ways to address it.

You don’t have to wait until you’ve snapped at a coworker, fell asleep at work, or made an unhelpful decision with a client to address your burnout. You may feel tired, irritable, and heavy in a way that really only revolves around your work or the duties involving your burnout (such as specifically related to work, caretaking, or parenting). It may be that when you stop working or doing this other activity you feel like yourself again. You may notice your energy return quickly not like with a more long-standing depressive episode. Burn out for me amazes me when I bounce back on the weekend and recover when I’m not working. It also felt difficult in the past when I dealt with burnout when people would talk a lot about vacations. I didn’t have time or money to dedicate to these vacations. I’d like to talk about other ideas we can consider as an immediate and long-term balm for those burned places in your psyche. Some of us are even the firefighters for other people’s psyche. We have some double, triple burn to tend to in these cases.

I believe that with accessing your recharge you may be able to recover from your burnout. With that being said, if you continue to suffer from burnout it may be helpful to access a healer who can truly help you out at this time such as a kind psychologist who can support you through depression.

We may look at how to prevent burnout, but then I think we need to get into a long and helpful discussion on sexism and colonialism. What I mean by that is that often times women, especially women of color are expected to do more for less. For example, for many years they have psychologists, especially women of color psychologists under earn in areas where burn out is most prevalent. We hear it modeled and perpetuated all of the time. So to prevent burnout, which I believe to be the more important topic, we will talk in another blog in the near future about how to dismantle sexism and colonialism in your work life, but for now let us broach the more superficial issue of how to recover from burnout now:

  1. Intentionality-I’m almost certain that you’re already intentional out there in the world. If you’re reading this blog my guess is you live intentionally by trying to recover from your burnout. Every song, tv show, media, and friend conversation can be taxing on someone who is already burned out and it is difficult to spot. I’m not talking about doing laundry and getting groceries. I’m talking about the other things we do in our lives that feel less intentional. When we discern what brings us joy or gives us reprieve from the burned parts of our spirit then we can recover. It can be difficult not to bounce off the bowling bumpers given someone may feel so tired, but it may not serve us well to live unintentionally bouncing off the bumpers down the lane. We can live intentionally by reviewing our values, reallocating time, and practicing boundaries that are authentic to us. For example, if you love a friend, and also notice you feel drained and distracted when you talk with her lately you may check in with yourself. Would it be helpful to talk with her at a different time of the day? Less often? Or in person rather than on the phone? Another example is bouncing in between watching a TV show and checking emails from work. If you’re racking through work communications instead of enjoying a series or if you’re feeling too charged by the TV show and are reverting back to work to soothe you can pause here and see what works best for you. What is it that soothes you? What feeds your spirit? And how can you get more of that in your life with other constraints in your life? For example, do you listen to the radio on your headphones or speaker as you travel to work when it may make you feel better to have quiet time or listen to your favorite book? Or are you calling people back to go with the motions of life or is it serving the greatest good of all?

2. People-Speaking of people, who are those people who help recharge your energy? Even if you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP) with loads of introverted tendencies, you are human and need people. There are a couple of people I feel deeply heard by and who I attempt to hear as well. These folx are in my heart. I can share or not share as much as I need to. These are people who do not judge me. They praise me when I didn’t know there was praise to find. We may talk about difficult cases. We may be playful. Whatever it is these friendships do NOT look like the TV show Friends with everyone looking alike and laughing over coffee every morning. Maybe you and your friends look like this, but that stumped me for some years. These heart connections can come from unexpected places. They are your family. I’d rather have one heart connection like this than 20 friends who I stay on the surface with, especially as an HSP. As we set boundaries around communications with people where we are not our authentic selves or feel drained around we can have more room the people we feel best around. I think of myself like a happy puppy. There’s certain pups who I can’t wait to smell and almost tackle with my love. When you’re burned out, save it for the pups that fill your heart.

3. Yourself-You can also spend some time as you’d like to. We don’t all have our own room or space so time to yourself may be internal or it may be outdoors. For example, if there’s a place you feel energized by can you spend a bit of time there to recharge? Or are you craving meditation time to internally take time for you? Time in the way you want it does not have to be the Eurocentric images I think of when I think of self-care and burnout. Make it whatever you need it to be.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

How to be More Comfortable With Pleasure for Yourself

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Dear soft hearted loved ones,

I talk with so many people recovering from repressed and oppressed sexuality, especially regarding their own pleasure. Several people have been shamed not to touch themselves. Other groups of people have made children feel dirty or ashamed for safe and healthy masturbation. It is also perfectly okay for people not to have sexual interest too.

Sex releases helpful stuff like dopamine, oxytocin, and helps our immune systems. It is even said to light up the same parts of our brains as meditation. Ekhart Tolle’s The Power of Now even discussed sex to be a spiritual experience of connection (Here’s the book:https://bookshop.org/a/23992/9781577314806). Why not rock all that we know about sexual pleasure and the benefits to our hormones and spirituality to help us become more comfortable with masturbation?! If you’d like to know more about how to please yourself with less shame and more satisfaction keep reading for these three tips.

  1. Heal. Okay easier said than done. Healing old stories around religious or societal shame with sexual pleasure, especially sexual self-pleasure can be very helpful. You can also start to work healing where the psyche and physiological meet or the mind and body. You can uncover the oppressions of colorism, racism, and xenophobia. You can unpack trauma around your gender, body, or sexual traumas. You can give yourself pleasure in a safe setting and in the way that you want without having to tend to someone else’s needs and with less worry about how someone else perceives you or the sexual interaction. There’s so much layered into how we see our genitals, sexual needs, etc. If you can note what areas make you feel comfortable that can be a huge first step toward becoming more comfortable with self-pleasure. For example, if someone experienced religious oppression around sexuality, they can observe these thoughts come up for themselves, note these messages, and affirm or love on themselves. They can also work in therapy to address these wounds to gain more healing and feel touching themselves. Or perhaps their genitals do not align with their gender identity. They may explore what brings them pleasure and what are their boundaries, including what induces dysphoria for them. For some noting and observing the wounds around sexual pleasure can be helpful and for some this can uncover more work they want to do with a trusted psychologist. There are healing providers who can support your goals around feeling okay with who you are, including sexually.

2. Feel. Mindfulness can work wonders with pleasing yourself. If prayer and meditation are in your practice, you can use them now. You can meditate or set a quick intention right before you begin. You can use mindfulness to re-track your mind to the sensations in the moment. If you feel better with a clean, quiet space and can access that space, please do this for yourself. If you feel more relaxed with music or scents, go for it. If you prefer different temperatures you can run cold hands on your torso before you begin pleasuring yourself. If you prefer a slow start you may use your hands before using a toy. You can even explore new toys. Or you can explore nothing new and simply tap into the sensations by being present. Sometimes so much is going on in the world and our minds that we forget we can access a quieter more open part of ourselves internally. Another way to access that serenity within and consciousness is to relax part of the body. You may take a series of slow, long breaths and relax the abdomen or focus on imagining the tension in your pelvis melting into the bed/floor/wherever you are. Accessing physical release of tension can work wonders for the mind-body connection.

3. Deal. Make a no pressure deal with yourself. There are no constraints on whether you get aroused or not. Please let there be no pressure to orgasm. If we did that you may avoid seeking the pleasure you desire. Make a deal to yourself to be your own best lover by respecting your limits including your energy levels. For example, if your sex drive has decreased or you have a different sex drive level than a partner, let this be your time to have no pressure time with yourself. This can also be easier said than done.

I get it, and nonetheless connection to ourselves can help us improve this consciousness and get us some more of that oxytocin and dopamine. Reach out if you’d like to share how you intend to note and maybe even release an old story today. Sending you love this Friday and wishing you a moment of time in whatever way that looks for you.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

Anxious Attachment Desert

Dear Soft Hearted Loves,

I’d like to discuss the phenomenon when anxiously attached folks find that love and it feels like chilled water in the deepest, driest desert.

The book, Attached: The New Science and how it can Help you Find- and Keep- Love, discussed the literature on attachment styles and how there are more avoidant attachment style folks in the dating pool because things sometimes don’t work out with them as often. You may know avoidant attachment styles to be scared, emotionally unavailable (EU), fuck boys, or those hot and cold folks that feel confusing. They leave or are left more often than their non-avoidant attachment style counterparts and are therefore often who people date, including anxiously attached people. When an anxious attachment style person matches with someone who can meet their needs they may feel completely enthralled or fall for them quickly. This quick to fall for thing is part of folks who are anxiously, or at least partly anxiously attached (such as people who have anxious-avoidant attachment style).

If we go imagine a baby who is anxiously attached crying and paired with an EU care giver it is kind of sad. Now, if we imagine the sweet little baby getting their cries met with tender, gentle attentiveness then we can see how the anxiously attached adult is not that different. When the adult finally connects with that person who sees them and can express reassurance (with boundaries of course) it can feel like that delicious cup of water in the dry, hot desert. Ahhh, finally! It is truly amazing when we can be our own partners and give ourselves just what we need. It is also helpful to know how to weed out some of the people who may trigger our childhood wounds rather than support us on our healing paths.

When anxiously attached folks have this water in the desert experience it is not unexpected. Folks may feel they are on fire when they’re falling for someone. This is sometimes when I get the pleasure of working with someone in therapy around the wounds that feel ignited by being interested in someone. They may have a partner who is able to be attentive and still feel triggered. Or they may be leaving a relationship that did not provide them with what they needed. If we go back to the sweet little baby crying example we can have compassion for whatever comes up for the anxiously or anxiously-avoidant attached person is experiencing. It is all okay.

Attached: The New Science and how it can Help you Find- and Keep- Love discusses ways in which folks can spot an avoidant attachment style person and what to do if you are one or need help with that. I believe it is empowering to know that while we may not be able to pair up all the sweet little babies with their appropriately matched attachment style caregiver, we can help them side step repeating this pattern over and over in sex and romance. We can work internally to give ourselves what we need and learn to stop this pattern through trauma healing and discernment of attachment styles.

Check out the book Attached here.

With kindness,

Dr. J

Compassion for Cycling Moods

Some folks have cycling of moods. Others cycle with the moon. Most of us have some natural cycling. This could be in the form of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a bipolar spectrum disorder*, or ups and downs with certain hormones or hormone replacements. For example, some folks who are on hormone replacement therapy can track their cycle and notice it align with a friend’s cycle. Cycling is so natural that many people even cycle with the moon.

Cycling has been depicted in literature for centuries. Having depressive or manic cycles is nothing new. I often wonder how much trauma is associated with cycling. For example, you may have noticed your premenstrual symptoms worsen around the beginning of the pandemic. What a traumatic time for some. In general, people may notice some highs and lows as they try new things at this point in the pandemic. For example, some people are noticing feeling more disconnected or new racing thoughts as they engage with people more in-person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m forever grateful for being able to be vaccinated and there are several of my family members in Iran who may not be able to get vaccines. I also notice folks struggling with their mental health. It parallels something like getting help after a war. Folks are crawling out of the corner that kept them alive these last several months. They may need even more tender care than when the virus was at it’s peak. If you notice yourself having some ups and downs we can take into context what is happening right now and extend heaps of compassion.

I like to extend compassion to these parts of us that are up and down by noting what arises and then getting in touch with what the part is trying to express. For example, is there a part of you that is exhausted? Does she need tender words of affirmation? Does she need to be heard? Some examples of when this part needs to be heard are when we feel tired and sassy or when we wish our emotions were more aligned with the thing that happened. When you feel yourself have big feelings rather than man-splain or invalidate yourself, note that part of you begging, maybe even screaming inside to be heard and scared that we are abandoning ourselves or that someone will leave or reject us.

You can utilize components of internal family systems (IFS) therapy to first calm your nervous system. I do this through touching my hand to the skin over my heart and really feeling the temperature and texture here while love shines from my hands to my heart. If you feel safe and relaxed you can ask to talk with this inner part for a few moments. You can envision this part of you sitting on the couch and handing them a warm cup of tea or hot coco. You can ask this part of you what’s going on. You can listen attentively, even if the reaction is huge. In fact, when the reaction is big we can give that part of ourselves even more tenderness. I offer those parts even more love. Note that part and then invite this tender part of you to share what is happening through imagery. This can help us have even greater compassion for those ups and downs. If you’d like help finding someone to walk you through these imagery exercises feel free to reach out to me.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

*If you feel your bipolar disorder or other cycling is in need of assistance please do reach out and get the help you need.

How to Affirm Your Gay or Trans Adolescent

Dear soft hearted loves,

I’ve been talking a lot with folks about how their family could’ve handled things more kindly when they found out their child was gay or trans (or sometimes we say LGBTQ standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer). I have the opportunity to serve folks healing from the wounds of society or someone emotionally, financially, or physically abandoning someone because they found out their child is LGBTQ. Some parents are doing a great job of navigating their grief, surprise, or adjusting to seeing their child differently. Some families are even reaching out and asking how they can be kind and helpful to their LGBTQ child. If you are reading this to help heal those old wounds for yourself or to help your teen, you’re doing a great job. I’m proud of you and I thank you. I’m hoping these direct affirmations can help caregivers to give that loving care to their child or adolescent. If you didn’t get these when you were younger I’m hoping we can have folks telling themselves these affirmations now.

It may go without saying, and I’ll still say it. It can be helpful to affirm your teen daily and without hurtful things to negate or confuse from the kind comments you said. For example, if I tell someone she can be herself and then I turn around and call her the “b” word these messages can get confused. Affirming daily can help your child build up a bank of affirmations perhaps strengthening the parent-child relationship and protecting them from traumas out there such as being misgendered. No being told you are whole in this moment as you are doesn’t stop the emotional bleeding of being misgendered, but it may help to know you have a nice parent to come home to. You can be the parent to your teen that you needed. Secret hint: You can be the inner loving parent to yourself now that you always needed. These affirmations are a great start to reparenting yourself and parenting your child.

And hey, if you are skeptical about affirmations I was too. Please read Dr. LaTrice Dowtin’s article on affirmations to learn more about how affirmations can really work even when they may seem annoying or ineffective: https://www.playfulleighpsyched.com/post/why-arent-affirmations-working-for-me

The more authentically you, the better. Please use the following affirmations in your own words:

This is a hard time and in this moment you are safe.

All of you is welcome here.

I know you are trying.

I love you.

You are lovable.

You are everything I want you to be.

I see you.

I may not get it, and I’m here walking through this with you.

You are enough.

You are whole as you are.

Another way to affirm their being is to use a word they love. For example, I recently heard someone who identifies as a butch lesbian who said they love to be called “dude.” Someone else told me she loved to be called “honey.” Another person shared she wanted to be called “mija.” We can literally affirm one another’s presence with the use of a mindful, intentional word.

You can also validate your adolescent’s appearance by saying:

I notice you really enjoying the way your hair looks now.

I see you smile when you put cologne on rather than perfume.

I see you light up when I use they/them pronouns.

There are so many ways we can love on teens going through navigating their intersecting and developing identities. If you read this article you are already part of the solution and I appreciate anyone trying to help people feel more comfortable in this world. Let’s use a kind word with someone today.

With love,

Dr. Joharchi

Healing From Perfectionism

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Dear soft hearted loves,

Does perfectionism continue to block you from being you? Does perfectionism exhaust you? Or perhaps you feel you are so far from perfect that perfectionism can’t be an issue for you.

The inner critic who lives in perfectionism may attack your performance, work, eating, or other things you do or services you provide. Rigidly holding onto a high standard may even hold you back from being able to complete a project on time. For example, perhaps a person was only given attention when they cleaned perfectly or did assignments perfectly. If we grew up with a love deficit or attention limited household some of us may give up on trying to be perfect or try super super hard to get more love through being perfect. Therefore,I honor all parts of us who feel pulled to perfectionism. We can affirm, give ourselves a break, or highlight our contributions.

The perfectionist may have gotten us out of getting yelled at as a child or may have even served you in adulthood. For example, my perfectionistic inner critic helped me graduate graduate schools and go on to serve many patients. However, it no longer serves me well to believe the messages of this rigid little perfectionist within. In fact, the perfectionist could correlate with burn out or resentment. For example, someone may feel driven to accept all the clients their boss refers to them only to end up exhausted, with compassion fatigue, and annoyed with the boss and themselves for having accepted the clients.

In order to heal from perfectionism I’d want us to have discernment between what’s perfectionism and what’s reality. The chatter in our mind may sound like chatter, but through meditation or gently observing and witnessing our own thoughts we may notice a charge, heaviness, or racing feeling. We may notice thoughts pressuring us to be “just right,” that we aren’t doing or being enough, or that we are not performing perfectly. Said voice needs to be acknowledged from helping us get praise, helping us survive, and helping us get more love. We can go back to our inner child or utilize internal family systems to discover what this part of us did when we were younger.

When I drive home from work I give myself the praise I would’ve wanted. I briefly inventory my interactions in my mind. I praise myself for times I was supportive, compassionate, present, and did something helpful rather than harmful. This allows me to obtain the love I seek from within. May we acknowledge this arising, gain discernment to know the difference between our truth and perfectionism, and give ourselves what we need.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

How to Navigate Inner Parts and Gender

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Dear soft hearted loves,

Do you remember when we learned about the seven different types of inner critics from expert, Maryam Fallahi? You can review the different types in Maryam Fallahi’s article seen here if you’d like: https://softheartpsychology.com/?p=161

I want to share about the phenomenon of the inner critics attacking our identities, specifically gender identity. Given that I’m a cisgender woman I cannot speak to Transgender and nonbinary folx experiences. And as the psychologist for a county’s gender clinic and as someone who cares about bringing this work into her private practice I want to discuss using components of internal family systems (IFS) with gender diverse people for psychologists.

Sometimes a part of people can come up and say they are not enough, especially as it pertains to gender. For example, a transwoman may have a part of her criticize that she is not woman enough or not Trans enough. This is different and sometimes intersecting with messages she may have heard growing up or from hateful, dangerous people in society. Sometimes another part can tell a person to fit a mold or that they aren’t being themselves in the “right” way. Essentially, I’ll hear clients in a beautiful path of transition have a hurtful part of themselves (like an inner bully, protector part, or inner critical parent) come up and say some of the meanest stuff. This part knows what buttons to push and which part of our identities to destroy. For example, as an Iranian American and White person, sometimes my inner critic comes up to tell me I’m not Iranian American enough and fit no where. There’s no use in battling back with this part of me. If you’ve ever tried to disprove or battle with these parts you may know that even if you “win” the battle this time, the inner parts will continue to be in tension and conflict, perhaps gaining even more momentum.

The most effective way to approach these inner conflicting parts has been to acknowledge where they come from and to observe them as the inner critic (or inner protector, wounded child, etc.). Understanding that a part of us is attacking our very identity can help this protective part of us be heard. Yes, I said protective. How can such hurtful attacks be protective? Well these parts of a person may arise to protect us from being rejected or abandoned. This may be especially true for folks who experienced emotional neglect, dysfunction in the family, abuse, and oppression. It is understandable that if I’m working with a trans client they may experience a part of them saying hurtful comments parallel to a change, fatigue, stress, oppression, hunger, or other shifts in their life such as right after hormone replacement therapy or before a family gathering. It can be difficult to note the inner critic is arising and may be trying to help the person mold to society. Or perhaps an inner part is trying to get the person to be so perfect that they won’t be abandoned or rejected. Once we acknowledge this is where that part of us is coming from sometimes the part can soften just knowing they’ve been heard.

Sometimes that part might need some soothing. I trust that the folks I serve have ways of soothing that serve them well and if they don’t we have so many cool options to explore such as taking a walk in the sun, cooking a favorite meal, listening to soothing music, compassionately putting their hands on their face, affirming they will not abandon themselves to the best of their ability, or simply hugging themselves.

I will also say it has been a bit triggering for some folks to imagine parts of their inner psyche because they may imagine their inner child in the gender they were born into and not their gender now or they may imagine an inner critic as a parent of a gender that brings them dysphoria. For example a woman imagining she is screaming at herself, but the image is her dad and this could ignite dysphoria. We can evoke any image we want or need. I can remember my inner child as the sweet girl who just wanted to play rather than the girl who was in trouble at school. We can work to reframe memories into the inner child that feels most aligned with a client’s current gender. This may change from session to session so we want to rely on the client’s words and names for themselves each time.

While I have no idea what it is like to be born into a body that doesn’t align with who I am, I want to say integrating internal family systems work into my gender affirming practice has changed my life and those I serve. We have an opportunity to support and heal through listening to the parts of us craving to be seen and heard. These parts have been stuffed, abandoned, and numbed for years and sometimes generations. If these parts have been oppressed or harmed by society I’m sending all these parts and all of you extra tenderness and love. We have the love within to access this healing.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

How to Hold Onto Moments of Joy

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Dear Soft Hearted Loves,

Life can be so weird and hard sometimes that a moment of joy can be something we really want to revel in. I have two suggestions on how to let the joy sink in deeply. Practicing authentic gratitude and creating a reel of other’s appreciation can be just what we need.

Authentic Gratitude

It can be difficult to practice gratitude when we’re feeling down or grieving. Gratitude can come from an authentic place by reflecting on what you’re grateful for and why you’re grateful for this person, thing or experience. For example, rather than saying you’re grateful for a roof over your head you might say something more specific and include your why such as “I’m grateful to live in a sober home with locks because it makes me feel safe.” Or you might write, “I’m grateful for the feeling of the sun on my chest in this moment because it makes me know I’m okay and part of a bigger plan.” Again, there are things or people who you may be grateful for and it can expand the joy to share it with them too. So if you catch a couple of the gratitudes you wrote down being about someone you love or work with, consider letting them know. Imagine what it’d feel like to hear that someone wrote about your work, cooking, presence, listening, or something else. This allows you to feel your reality to it’s fullest extent with both validation for the moments of suffering and fully experiencing the moments of joy by sharing them with someone you trust.

Praise Reel

You can also take a few minutes to reflect on what has felt affirming or praiseful in your life. Has someone recently expressed appreciation? Do you have a friend who tells you kind things about yourself? Do you have a client who really appreciates your work? Put together a few of these experiences in your mind. You can write/record them if that helps or you can create your own acronym to help you remember. Then come back to this on a regular basis so you can breath in the praise. This is a sweet gift we can give ourselves. Sometimes the inner critic comes in and while we don’t want to argue with her we do want to give ourselves a gentleness break with some praise and appreciation when we can. Practicing the praise reel often better assures that we can come back to it in a time of stress and need.

Feeling your feelings to the best of your ability can be hard for a variety of reasons. If we can better experience our joy moments to the fullest then we can welcome the full experience of life. Sometimes I have fear the joy will go away. That’s okay too. In fact it’s pretty common to worry that joy will escape us quickly when in reality all feelings will come and go like rain being soaked into the Earth and come back up again. Wishing you many sweet rainy, sunshiny days ahead.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

How to Transform from Toxic Positivity to Presence

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Dear Soft Hearted Loves,

I’m a reformed toxic positivity user or a transforming ex-Pollyanna. My dear friend once brought it to my attention that it was invalidating when I would highlight the positive when she was sharing what was going on for her. After years of trying to see the bright side I had to check what was coming up for me that I’d steer conversations from the present to highlighting the positive. This can be dangerously invalidating even when we have the best of intentions. This is not to say that I don’t still love practicing gratitude and affirmations. Toxic positivity is different and can be very hurtful.

I did not want my friend to police her sharing with me. I wanted my friend to share freely so I began my transformation from toxic positivity to more and more presence. I then learned that not only can it be invalidating but it can also burry and numb my true feelings and disconnect me from the present moment. Here are a few ways you can come more and more into the moment and move into connectedness if you’d like.

  1. Observe obsessive thoughts, wanting to make it better, or wishing they’d do something differently when listening to someone share. You can witness your own thoughts like thoughts passing on a stream without judgment if they’re sharing something that hurts them or makes you sad. Wow this is so much easier said than done, but it’s been like a psychological muscle for me. The more we witness obsessive thoughts the less we try to transform these thoughts into something else or shame ourselves for these thoughts. Cognitively, it is impossible to control our first, automatic thought. Therefore, take note when your mind is going the person you are listening to. We do not want to control people or make them feel like they aren’t enough so simply listen and witness your passing thoughts unless they want something else from you.
  2. If you notice a feeling of sadness or heaviness in your body you can give yourself compassion through touch or another soothing avenue for you. For me, I tend to put one or two hands on my heart or gentle rub just below my collar bone when listening deeply in the moment. If that’s too distracting you can put one hand gently on the other to soothe yourself as you listen.
  3. If you’ve listened so deeply, witnessed protectively distracting thoughts, and soothed yourself into the moment please know it’s also okay to put a limit to it. It is actually more honest and authentic if we limit our listening instead of overextending ourselves. When we listen past our limit we may develop resentments, feel overwhelmed, push down a part of ourselves that has a need, or miss a spot for healing. For example, if I’m listening intently to a friend for an hour I may notice I am not able to keep this up authentically. I may ask to end the conversation for now and return tomorrow with rested and invigorated presence. True friends of mine understand this isn’t personal and it is simply about being awake to what I need and how I can be more of an available person to the world. Not everyone knows what they need and that’s okay. Actually, we are taught for the most part to suppress our needs. For example, in my father’s side of the family we are taught to bring tea to the men and older people after a meal when we may actually need rest in that moment or something else. I believe there’s a lot of intersecting complexity to this boundaries thing. Most of all caring for yourself will allow you to transform from throwing in positive reflections or trying to control someone’s perspective. Boundaries can help you be more and more present and available. When I feel badly about setting a boundary I acknowledge that and I also remind myself I’m not being honest and authentic when I push myself way past my limits.

Please comment on your journey toward presence and away from toxic positivity if you’re called to do so.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi